Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

2012 Automated Liquid Handling Survey Results

In automated liquid handlers (ALHs) many customers are looking for modularity, flexibility, scalability, and upgradability.

In automated liquid handlers (ALHs) many customers are looking for modularity, flexibility, scalability, and upgradability. At the same time, space limitations are causing a shift from large core-facility, high-throughput screening systems to smaller, dedicated, more distributed screening within individual laboratories. Lab or bench-scale ALHs often lack the capabilities of core lab instruments and workflows change as well. Users therefore demand scalable, relatively low-cost instruments to which they may add functionality later on. Throughput is always a factor in deciding to “go automated.” But many experts have noted that speed is secondary to analysis quality. ALH provides accuracy, repeatability, and essentially error-free record keeping while freeing lab workers to do more creative activities such as planning experiments.

If you currently utilize an automated liquid handling instrument or are planning to purchase one, please check all of the procedures that apply to your lab.*

Serial dilution18%
PCR setup18%
Plate replication14%
High-throughput screening12%
Cell culture11%
Plate reformatting10%
Whole genome amplification5%
Array printing4%
High-density array printing3%

Most of our readers have an annual budget of over $5,000 for the maintenance, parts, repairs and service of their automated liquid handling systems:

Under $1,00014%
$1,000 to $2,50018%
$2,500 to $5,00016%
$5,000 +34%
Don’t know19%

Do you currently use or plan to purchase an automated liquid handling instrument equipped with…..*

Disposable tips57%
Fixed, washable tips with various chemically resistant and biologically appropriate coatings and lengths17%
Sound waves that use acoustic energy to transfer liquids4%
Don’t know23%

The top 10 features that impact our readers’ decisions to buy automated liquid handling instruments:*

 ImportantNot ImportantDon't Know
Rapid throughput92%3%5%
Size — small footprint89%5%6%
Accuracy and precision for a wide range of compatible fluids89%6%5%
Ability to expand on instrument as requirements change86%10%4%
Maximize operator safety86%9%5%
Compatible with LIMS-generated work lists86%7%7%
Maintenance / service / availability of accessories and replacement parts84%10%6%
Safe sample handling — no cross-contamination83%12%5%
Sample tracking — automated recording and sample data documentation with a choice of bar code reader options83%12%5%

* These sections include results from our sister publication The Scientist

For more information on automated liquid handling, visit 

Completed Surveys: 230

See the most recent survey results